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American Studies

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A student enrolled in a PhD program in the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may achieve formal recognition for completing a secondary field in American Studies. The interdisciplinary breadth of American Studies and its wide-ranging subject matter make it an attractive secondary field for students from many departments, including anthropology, architecture/landscape architecture/urban planning, education, English, film and visual studies, history, history of art and architecture, history of science, music, religion, and sociology.

The American Studies program spans all aspects of American culture, often with a comparative focus. It includes a wide range of sources, methods, and theories. Over the last ten years, PhD students from other disciplines have enrolled in the American Studies Colloquium and/or the Warren Center seminar, and they have incorporated sources and approaches from American Studies into their dissertations.


  1. Completion of a minimum of four semester-long courses (16 credits). All four courses must be
    1. Taken with a member of the Committee on Higher Degrees in American Studies,
    2. Chosen from catalog sections headed “Primarily for Graduates,” and
    3. Taken outside the student’s home department.
  2. One of these courses must be American Studies 200 or 201 (Am. Studies Colloquia).
  3. Another of these courses must be a seminar requiring a major research paper.
  4. The remaining two may include the Am. Studies Colloquium (200 or 201) not taken under ‘2,’ above, but this second Am. Studies Colloquium is not required.
  5. Neither pass/fail nor audited courses will count towards a secondary PhD field in this department.

Advising and Record-keeping

Students interested in declaring a secondary field in American Studies should meet with both the chair and administrator of the program (Contact: 617-495-3325;; Barker Center 225). Upon successful completion of the course requirements detailed above, the student should submit evidence thereof to the American Studies administrator who will arrange approval by the chair. Upon the chair’s approval, the student may complete the Secondary Field application form.

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